On December 11, the City of Oakland lost a man who did so much to raise the profile of cycling in it that he was honored by its council as its unofficial Bike Mayor. Ron Bishop succumbed to a cancer that could not be treated because lesions discovered on his brain made him too weak for any kind of surgical procedure to take place.
The lesions were caused by being exposed to Agent Orange during the Viet Nam war. These were wounds he carried for over 40 years as he established himself as a much in demand architect. A brilliant man, with creativity oozing from his pores, he raised a family of two girls and even took them to school in a bike trailer long before it was an accepted practice. He helped the region to see Oakland as the beautiful biking city it is becoming.
Then the bubble that all of us lived in burst. Unable to find work designing homes, a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor, in 2009, he dedicated his creativity to bicycling. As he was starting the Easy Riders Bicycle Touring Group
, for example, when he was not taking whatever paying work he could find along the way, he even found time to help me ride a thousand miles on the Eagle HiWheel to Salt Lake City
. All this as Ron’s world kept crashing all around him. The real face of the Occupy Oakland movement, as he and I had agreed when we spoke recently, even his good friend Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (the three of us are pictured below) and for that matter the US Govt, for whom he had fought in the war that exposed him to Agent Orange as he affirmed the American Way, had to sit back and watch as he was evicted from his home of 30 years this last summer.
As he then lost the security and safety of a home, as well as the community and all the memories he had built around it, corporate executives all over America were pulling down million dollar bonuses. And as the corporate state still reigns supreme in many countries all over the world, countless dreams and lives like Ron’s continue to be shattered. Nor was it long before Ron, succumbed to the foreign agent in his body that had given him varying degrees of trouble all of his adult years. A such, Ron is yet another casualty of the greed that benefits so few at the expense of so many.
Ron’s passing leaves a huge hole in my heart. It makes me so sad to know that one of my activist comrades will no longer be there to help me to keep the National Bicycle Greenway dream out there.
Besides myself and bike activists everywhere, we are all diminished by Ron’s passing. All of us suffer because the odds were stacked so high against Ron. Or as John Donne famously said,
Never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
THX for your life Ron!
Last Spring I was lucky enough to learn more about him in this podcast interview
. When you get there you can also wonder at the many photos he shared with me of his life in bicycling.
THX 4 all of U!!
At the December 16, 2011 Oakland Celebration of 18 miles of new bikeways in 2011, Mayor Jean Quan dedicated Oakland’s newest bike lane on Webster Street in Ron’s honor. Ron would have ridden this new bike lane often from his house in the Temescal to Downtown Oakland. We are sure Ron is smiling somewhere knowing that he helped make this happen. At
East Bay Bike Coalition tribute
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